Words and pics: Rich Norman
Spiritus designed the LV119 ecosystem to be issued to operators in its entirety. The idea being that they can then select the desired configuration to meet mission requirements.
In part 1 of this series, I looked in detail at the construction and functionality of the ecosystem’s individual components.
In this article – Part 2 – I’ll look at the LV119’s wearability; and its ‘grey man’ form factor, in concealed and unconcealed modes. This means wearing the LV119 with everyday clothes, not combat apparel.
The idea is to blend in, with the plate carrier in its most covert mode.
For this purpose, I’ll use the Ranger Green set.
All products were provided free of charge by Spiritus distributor Tactical-Kit, and will be returned to them after I complete my evaluation. The items were earmarked specifically for review purposes, and I’d like to thank Tactical-Kit for their confidence in the blog. It’s a huge privilege to get these items before anyone else in the UK, through the official distributor.
Since I haven’t purchased the review items I don’t need to persuade myself I’ve been really clever in selecting them. However, it does mean that I’m unable to give long term feedback – so bear that in mind.
Now I’ve had a chance to wear the LV119 and go about some everyday tasks (remember, this is a concealable ‘grey man’ plate carrier) it’s actually a lot more comfortable than I gave it credit for originally.
I wore the LV119 over a thin technical T-shirt and I was expecting the shoulder straps to chafe my neck. However, when constructed with the Trifold covers, the shoulder straps were perfectly comfortable. That could be because I’d spent a bit of time dialling in the fit, ready to wear the LV119 for an extended period.
However, even before you start adjusting for size, make absolutely sure you have the right size.
I started off using the Ranger Green set with the Size 2 Ranger Green cummerbund provided. However, it was much too large so I defaulted to the Size 1 Wolf Grey cummerbund also supplied. Check Spiritus’ product description for full details on cummerbund sizing.
At the time of writing, it said this:
The cummerbund comes in two sizes. Size 1 and Size 2 each offering up to 14 inches of total adjustment. This allows for a proper fitment for all body types.
To figure our your size, simple measure your waist at the belly button. When measuring please dress as you would while actually wearing the carrier. For example, if you are operating in arctic environments, you should be wearing your cold weather equipment when measuring. If your measurement is 42″ we suggest going up to the size two.
Size One 28″ to 42″
Size Two 40″ to 54″
If your waist measurement is 42″ we suggest going up to the size two cummerbund.
The sides of the plate bag feature softshell panels, which do expand to accept ballistic plates.
Be warned, however. The LV119 exhibits extremely snug plate bags and Spiritus specifies their tolerances on its website. Check here for sizing and compatibility before you order.
At the time of writing, it said this:
The carrier was designed to snuggly fit United States Standard Issue SAPI cut plates. The bags were built to accommodate “thicker” plates but they will not fit plates that are NOT cut to the SAPI Spec.
Medium-10″ x 12.5″
Large- 10.25″ x 13.25″
Thickness- MAXIMUM of 1.20″
I am using medium plates in medium bags.
The Grey Man Look
Is the LV119 believable in grey man mode? I’d say it is.
The pic above shows an Arc’teryx Gryson shirt in my usual size, large. It’s worn over the top of the LV119. The latter is pretty much undetectable, unless a keen eyed observer was told exactly what to look for.
Even then, it’s debatable whether an observer would be able to spot the wearer in a crowd.
The shirt isn’t puckered or strained, nor does it exhibit an obvious outline, testament to the LV119’s low observable design.
Next: the reveal…
Not only am I wearing plates front and rear but I am also carrying two Pmags with Ranger Plates in the cummerbund, on each side of the front plate bag.
Next, with shirt removed and wearing just a thin technical T-shirt, you can see how closely the LV119 fits – and without bulk.
I’m now in a position to add my Spiritus Systems Micro Fight chest rig (reviewed here).
It’s curious how such a simple design can wear so comfortably.
Part of this, I am sure, is due to the slight relief provided by the front plate bag’s softshell document sleeve. It adds no bulk yet is air permeable and wicks moisture away from skin (when worn with a technical base layer, anyway). Some people get on well with spacer mesh in this area, but I just find that despite its other positive qualities, it’s an insulator.
So, the softshell segment works well for me.
However, I can’t fully explain why the LV119 is so comfortable. Is it the ergonomic cut? Is it the cummerbund with its innovative anchor system?
I suspect only Spiritus knows, and they aren’t telling their competitors.
Stay tuned for the final instalment; the LV119 in a more overt mode.
Want more Spiritus Systems reviews? You can find a whole list of them here. The list is updated as more reviews are published.